21 May 2021
Building state capacities and dynamic capabilities to drive social change: the case of South Africa
South Africa has not lacked policies, it has lacked dynamic capabilities inside the public sector to implement those policies. A paper, published by the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose, tackles this question head on, beginning with a different notion of the state - not just a market fixer but also a market co-creator and shaper. The authors focus on three inter-related areas: the dynamic capabilities needed to improve implementation of chosen strategic missions and related programmes, including digital capabilities; innovation in public service, especially with respect to coordinating activities that yield outcomes in a defined locality, but very much driven by a set of missions; and the idea of a developmental state whose aim is to achieve both greater efficiencies and equity outcomes. The authors conclude with a set of recommendations for South Africa to turn its weak state into a dynamic and capable innovative state. Please click here to peruse.
Minister Didiza’s budget vote speech centered on the themes of private-public-partnership approaches
Agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza delivered her budget vote speech to Parliament on May 13, touching on land reform, agricultural land leases, agricultural expansion, finance and the sectoral master plans.
On land reform, the minister emphasised the beneficiary selection criteria that emanates from the 2019 report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture. It prioritises women, youth, and people with disabilities in land redistribution. This cohort comprises more than two-thirds of the land beneficiaries thus far in the 700 000 hectares that the government announced for release in October 2020. Government has allocated 436 563 of the 700 000 hectares. Notably, the minister acknowledged that some of this land was already occupied and her department only had to formalise the leases in such occupied land parcels. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo analysed the minister's budget vote speech in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
South Africa’s regulation of agricultural product standards falls short
FAO Report
As industry and the government debate the steps required to implement the agricultural and agro-processing master plan, it bears highlighting that many of the required actions will have to take place in the government sphere. Improved productivity and more efficient delivery of critical government tasks and functions would move South African agriculture ahead at speed. A case in point is the critical issue of agricultural product standards, which are largely managed via the Agricultural Product Standards Act. Agricultural markets cannot function without institutions or the 'rules of the game'. The state therefore has an important duty to ensure appropriate institutions are in place and functional. Agbiz chief economist Wandile Sihlobo discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Business Day.
Brief reflections on South Africa’s consumer food price inflation data
On Wednesday morning, Statistics South Africa reported much higher figures for consumer food price inflation than some had expected. In April 2021, the country’s consumer food prices were at 6,7% year on year, the highest level since July 2017. The different thing about 2017 is that it was a year that followed a drought period – so there were still pass-throughs of higher grain prices from the previous poor season. Notably, livestock farmers were restocking their herds after the devastation caused by the drought. This meant that there was less slaughtering activity and meat prices rose, driving the uptick on overall consumer food price inflation, which for July 2017 was reported at 6,9% year-on-year. But we are far from that reality this time around. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked article.
Grain production could be better than expected this year
The outlook for global agricultural conditions is again in the spotlight as the 2021/22 global grains and oilseed production season commences in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the season will only start around October. Two major global institutions – the International Grains Council (IGC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have recently released their preliminary forecasts for the season. Both institutions paint a positive picture of a potential increase in global grains and oilseeds production in 2021/22 compared to the previous 2020/21 production season. For the sake of consistency in this column, the IGC estimates were used. Wandile Sihlobo discusses the latest data in the linked article, written for and first published on Fin24.
Rail transport's honour should be restored
Do you still remember how grain train trucks pulled into silos, unloaded the grain on the trucks on a large scale and shipped it to mills by rail? This was in the days when there was mainly one buyer of grain and grain prices were set by the governing bodies. After the deregulation of the agricultural commodity markets, the advent of the free market brought about major upheavals. This disrupted the rail transport of grain and was accompanied by the decay of historic station buildings and railway houses. Agbiz Grain general manager Wessel Lemmer discusses this subject in the linked article, written for and first published in Landbouweekblad.
Kenya’s regulatory authority behind the recent ban on maize imports from Tanzania has been stripped of its powers
Kenya’s regulatory authority behind the recent ban on maize imports from Tanzania has been stripped of its powers. From now on, the Agriculture and Food Authority (Afa) will be removed from clearing maize imports. Kenya’s media reported early this week that the move was taken by agriculture cabinet secretary Peter Munya. In removing Afa from the clearance chain, the regulator would have no powers to register maize at the border points. The measure, the ministry explained, would ease clearance of agricultural produce imports, among other things. Munya added that the Kenyan government would instead rely on the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) on quality assurance. Read more in the linked article, first published in The Citizen in Tanzania.
World’s largest specialist reefer ship arrives in SA to transport record citrus volumes abroad
A delegation from the Citrus Growers’ Association of Southern Africa (CGA) visited the specialised reefer ship MV Cool Eagle, which arrived last week at the Durban port. Chartered by the Reefer Alliance, the MV Cool Eagle is one of a series of five ships that are the largest specialised reefers vessels in the world. This is the first time one of these new generation reefer ships has visited South Africa and is thus a truly historic moment for the citrus industry and the country as a whole . MV Cool Eagle has arrived in order to meet increasing export demand of South Africa’s citrus produce. Read more in the linked CGA media statement.
Plant health in South Africa – threats to biosecurity, biodiversity and food security
The National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) invites you to an NSTF discussion forum on ‘Plant health in South Africa – threats to biosecurity, biodiversity and food security’ from 10 to 11 June 2021. This is an online live-streamed and interactive event on Zoom. Plant health is intrinsically linked to the survival of our planet and all that live on it. While plant health is a broad topic, it is imperative we understand the latest research and dynamics in the South African context. The NSTF discussion forum topics include detecting and controlling plant health problems, research into pests and pathogens, chemicals versus biological control, and the role of breeding and technology for resistance. There will also be a discussion on government regulations for the importing of plants. Please click here for more information and to register.
Don’t let blight catch you off-guard
It is a well-known fact that the best way to control diseases, particularly those on potatoes, is to prevent them. However, disease control can sometimes be a costly exercise for farmers. The question is then, how can farmers strike the optimal balance between preventative versus unnecessary control? The linked media release courtesy of Syngenta provides more insights into the control of diseases, with a particular focus on potatoes.
Feedback from monitor farms can assist producers to manage predation
Predation Management South Africa (PMSA) has published a report - Livestock and Predation Management - authored by predation specialist Niёl Viljoen. This report gives feedback on the endless battle of livestock producers to protect their livestock against predators, as the conflict between humans and wildlife is as persistent as always. Livestock farmers have their challenges and with the assistance of PMSA monitor farms, a standard has been set to assist and train producers to reduce the impact of predation, whilst still being financially viable. This report gives in-depth feedback on how information gathered from the monitor farms, with appropriate predation management specialist support, contributed towards training, guiding, and providing relevant information to producers to manage the predation threat on their farms. Please click here to peruse.
World Food Safety Day with Lynca Meats
According to The World Health Organisation, World Food Safety Day “draws the attention and inspires action to help prevent, detect and manage food safety risks in order to promote the availability of safe and healthy food for all.” The theme of the year is “safe food now for a healthy tomorrow” which stresses that the consumption and production of our food have “immediate and long-term benefits'' for people, the world and the economy. When it comes down to the inner workings of food safety, Lynca Meats CEO, Brent Fairlie addresses the local and international safety standards for pork, information surrounding the demand for livestock products, food safety compliance; the role Lynca Meats play in delivering safe, good quality pork and getting to know the measures that are taken to enhance food safety to improve product quality. Read more in the linked media statement.
Why the rising price of milk isn't coming down anytime soon
Colin Wellbeloved, who chairs the Milk Producers' Organisation of South Africa (MPO), says the price of milk isn't coming down anytime soon. The MPO represents the majority of dairy farmers in the country. Wellbeloved explains that the price of milk has gone up due to the rising feed costs affecting the supply chain. The price of dry feed for cows - mainly maize and soya - has skyrocketed in the last year, making it more expensive for South African dairy farmers to produce milk. According to Wellbeloved, the supply of milk in the retail market has decreased by 5% during the first three months of this year. He says the retail price of milk will continue to be affected by the cost of maize and other feed grains. Read more in the linked article, first published on msn.com.
Invitation for nominations and applications for the appointment of CEO at SSK
After a distinguished career of nearly 24 years at SSK, Erenst Pelser, the chief executive officer, is retiring. The Board and Signium Africa are inviting interested parties to participate. Please click here for more information.
Invitation to Nedbank webinar
Agriculture’s positive contribution to the economy was abundantly clear in 2020, and this year is showing great promise. However, with several challenges facing the sector, is it in a position to contribute meaningfully to the South African economy, and do we have what it takes to ensure sustained growth in the medium to long term? Join Nedbank on 3 June 2021 from 9:00 to 10:30 for an agriculture webinar, where speakers - Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz), and Dr Tracy Davids, commodity markets and foresight manager at the Bureau for Food and Agricultural Policy (BFAP) - will present on the following topics:
  • The technical market and production trends of key subsectors, addressing whether and where expansion is possible.
  • The policy environment, what is to come in the next few years and how that will influence agriculture (investors, farmers and consumers).
Please click here to register.
Get the latest news from the FPEF
Keeping it Fresh, the newsletter of the Fresh Produce Exporters' Forum (FPEF), contains all the recent relevant news and developments. Please click here for the latest edition.
Weekly newsletter from CGA
Justin Chadwick, CEO of the Citrus Growers' Association of Southern African, shares the latest news in the citrus industry in his weekly update - From the desk of the CEO. Please click here to peruse.
The latest news from the pork industry
Read more about the latest developments and news in the pork industry in the South African Pork Producers' Organisation's (SAPPO) newsletter, SAPPO Weekly Update.
Produce Marketing Association’s (PMA’s) EU Green Deal Series
1 June 2021 | Session 2: Retail and Demand Perspectives
This session will focus on the effects of the EU Green Deal on retail businesses and consumer demand - including how retailers can prepare their businesses to successfully navigate and operate within the EU Green Deal. Speakers will be announced.
6 July 2021  | Session 3: Impact on Business and Commercial Ventures
In this session, you will learn how the EU Green Deal could impact your business and how to de-risk your business. Speakers will be announced.

Nedbank webinar
Theme: Can agriculture save the South African economy?
3 June 2021 | 9:00-10:30
Register here

Food Safety Summit 2021
8-9 June 2021

NSTF Discussion Forum
Theme: ‘Plant health in South Africa – threats to biosecurity, biodiversity and food security’
10 to 11 June 2021 | Zoom
2021 AFMA Symposium
18-19 October 2021
Enquiries: events@afma.co.za 

Agbiz Congress 2021
22-24 June 2022 | Sun City
Why join Agbiz?
  • Agbiz is the only organisation that serves the broader and common over-arching business interests of agribusinesses in South Africa.
  • Agbiz addresses the legislative and policy environment on the many fronts that it impacts on the agribusiness environment.
  • Agbiz facilitates considerable top-level networking opportunities so that South African agribusinesses can play an active and creative role within the local and international organised business environment.
  • Agbiz research provides sector-specific information for informed decision-making.
  • Agbiz newsletter publishes members' press releases and member product announcements.
The Agbiz Newsletter may contain a few links to websites that belong to third parties unrelated to us. By making these links available, we are not endorsing third-party websites, their content, products, services or their events. Agbiz seeks to protect the integrity of its newsletter and links used in it, and therefore welcomes any feedback.